The top viral marketing campaigns of all time

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  • December 2, 2014

Old Spice – February 2010

No viral video chart would be complete without this gem, with many hilarious follow on videos, this made Old Spice the brand that marketers everywhere wanted to work with. This original video has 49.5M views to date.

TNT Add Drama – April 2012

One of my all-time favourites has to be the TNT ‘push to add drama’ stunt in Belgium, I can never tire of this video. The video has over 51.6M YouTube views and was so successful that a sequel was made to launch TNT in the Netherlands which has over 14.7M views.

Air New Zealand an Expected Briefing – October 2012

To celebrate the release of the first Hobbit film, Air New Zealand released the best safety briefing of all time and secured themselves over 12.1M views. To celebrate the final movie this year they have now released ‘The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made’ in October which has already overtaken the original in views with 13.1M.

Bodyform Responds: The Truth – October 2012

Although it is much disputed whether the original Facebook comment was genuine or a set-up, this video response from Bodyform’s ‘CEO’ was definitely a hit with over 5.6M YouTube views.

LG Elevator Prank – October 2012

Promoting how ‘lifelike’ its new IPS monitors, LG pulled this brilliant stunt replacing an elevator floor with the monitors to make it look like the floor was falling away while unsuspecting people were in the lift to hilarious reactions. The original video has over 22.9M YouTube videos and LG have since filmed other brilliant pranks including the meteor one also below.

Red Bull Space Jump – October 2012

Breaking three world records, Felix Baumgartner completed the iconic space jump for Red Bull in October 2012. The Mission Highlights video alone on Red Bull’s channel has over 37.4M views.

Metro Trains Melbourne Dumb Ways to Die – November 2012

One of the most innovative public safety videos of all time, dumb ways to die was a hit around the world and there have since been numerous sequels creates. The original has an amazing 92.9M views on YouTube and the campaign won numerous awards worldwide.

Three UK #DancePonyDance – February 2013

Three’s advert featuring a moonwalking pony became an instant viral hit amassing a whopping 9.7M YouTube views to date. Three also created the PonyMixer which allowed users to create their own version of the Ad however this has since been removed.

Pepsi Max Test Drive Prank – March 2013

A hilarious prank from Pepsi Max to promote their ‘zero calorie cola in disguise’ by disguising Jeff Gordon and taking a poor unsuspecting car salesman on the test drive of his life. The video has over 43.3M views on YouTube and there have been various follow up videos.

Kmart Ship My Pants – April 2013

Promoting their shipping service, Kmart’s ship my pants advert proved another instant hit, this original has over 21.8M YouTube views. Another of my favourites from Kmart is their ‘Show your Joe’ Christmas advert from the same year (no prizes for guessing why!) with over 18.3M views.

Evian baby&me – April 2013

Evian’s babies campaign is a common favourite amongst marketers and the public alike, proven by the fact this video has over 96M views! A multi-faceted campaign including an app for users to create their own baby image this was a huge success.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches – April 2013

This campaign aimed to prove to women that they were more beautiful than they thought, a powerful video that was uploaded to Dove’s channels worldwide. The original on the US YouTube channel has had over 64.8M views to date.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise – October 2013

To promote the movie Carrie, a New York coffee shop was transformed for a hidden camera stunt to capture shoppers’ reactions to telekinesis. The official video has had nearly 60M YouTube views to date.

Volvo Trucks the Epic Split – November 2013

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s epic video doing the splits on two reversing Volvo trucks amazed everyone when it was released in 2013. Who’d have thought a truck video could secure over 76.4M views?!

#NoMakeupSelfie – March 2014

Similar to the above, the #nomakeupselfie dominated UK users’ Facebook timelines throughout March this year. Although not actually started by Cancer Research UK, the Guardian reported the charity had received over £8m in donations thanks to the campaign.

Always #LikeAGirl – June 2014

With feminism and gender equality campaigns securing lots of publicity in 2014 the Always #LikeAGirl was a real hit. The original video has over 53.3M views on YouTube.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge – August 2014

Probably one of the most deserving of a place in this list has to be the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, every celebrity worth talking about got involved as did the public all around the world. Most importantly though, it significantly raised not only awareness of ALS but also donations to ALS charities. According to the BBC over 2.4 million challenge videos were uploaded to Facebook with $98.2m made in donations to the ALS Association (US) and £2.7m to the MND Association (UK). The below graph from Google trends shows how the interest peaked.

Of course we also got involved so if you’d like to relive that gem of a video you can do so here!


Here’s the videos sorted by YouTube views (at the time of writing this post)

Viral chart


Have I missed any of your favourite campaigns in this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Laura Crimmons

About Laura Crimmons

With an extensive background in both traditional and online PR, Laura is Branded3’s Communications Director and leads our PR team. Laura works on the accounts of our biggest clients, developing and executing creative PR strategies which get brands talked about in all the right places, by the right people.

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  • Jamie Carruthers

    The greatest thing about the Threshers voucher is that it excludes their 3 for 2 offer (equivalent of 33% – see the small print at the bottom of the voucher).

    So all they have done is increase their discount from 33% to 40% to get 800k voucher downloads, get national coverage (including, sales increase of 60% for the festive period – and then they did the same thing the next year!

    I should get round to writing a case study about it. Absolutely perfect execution.

  • Kim Roach

    Excellent list of Viral Marketing Campaigns!

    My favorites were the Nike commercial and the Gorilla Advert.

    We are living in such an exciting time on the Web in which social media is enabling content to spread faster than ever.

  • Ciaran

    Thanks for the love for the dothetest campaign. It’s had just under 4 million views on YouTube, but nearer 5.5 million in total (including on the site and the various places it was hosted).

    Regarding the Thresher voucher, my understanding is that it was dreamt up by Hugh Mcleod , partly as an experiment to see the power of blogs with regards to WOM marketing.

  • Cyrus

    Snakes on a Plane?

  • The Krazy Dane

    I think you sould include this viral video made by the Danish Road Safety Council:

    I was seen by quite a few people around the world as far as I remember…

  • Jorge

    hotmail gained that many users because it was free, and easy to create an account for spammers!

  • ewa

    Amazing list of viral marketing cases. Actually gorilla is my favourite.
    Anybody knows how Titanic case worked?
    Greetings to everyone,

  • website design

    I agree.. Viral marketing is a powerful tool. Done well, it can promote an offer, build a database, and even propel a brand from obscurity to global fame.

  • Michelle

    These is a great list. I thought I would have known them all but half of them I’d never seen before.

    Shows how with it I am!

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  • Ozhan

    C’omen about hotmail. People dont even read emails fully yet alone read the footer?

    Why hotmail got so many users? It’s because of MSN! I know many people who a MSN addict but rarely uses emailing. (I hate that) I tell them email me a file, they wait for me get online on MSN, grrr…

  • Adventure Art Travel

    Nice work.

    Do you think these campaigns will continue to have such amazing success, now that people are aware of the marketing techniques behind them. Surely everyone is much more syndical now.

    Looking forward to seeing what the next big thing is

  • Innovation Catalyst

    I tend to think of this topic in a different way. In my opinion the greatest viral marketing campaign of all time was for ‘Blair Witch Project,’ which turned a $60k budgeted film into a $250 million cash cow.

  • Greg

    Hotmail is my favourite, so simple but yet so effective!

  • Soothing Philippines

    Viral Marketing really works to raise brand awareness. Nike and McDonald’s are so popular, yet they advertise with no end.

  • Ron

    The Thresher wine voucher marketing was brilliant viral marketing, wish I could think of something similar, any ideas?

  • Mark

    Hey, great postings!! I did a similar one a couple of months back too!

    I think the ‘Got Milk” campaign is an all time classic with great ROI. You can check out their new “get the glass” online game!

  • [email protected]

    hotmail virtually kicked off the signature marketing in emails

    every email that is sent from hotmail is finished with a signature inviting the receiver to join hotmail.. absolutely brilliant

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  • Reviewriches

    Nike was a good one and it clearly shows that we need to have out of box thinking to get us going.

  • Ad Maven

    What about the Ray-Ban viral video
    That was brilliant.

  • Lee Duncan

    Probably the easiest style of viral marketing for a small business to copy is the Thresher coupon. All you have to do is find the right offer and give something extra, or free, and you can have people sharing the info with their friends.

    To Ron at Piling Equipment – I had a quick look at your website to figure out if there’s an easy way to use a similar approach for your business. How about giving away something related to your industry – a free piling training guide, or something? Knowledge is a great thing to share for free as it costs you nothing to give away and has huge value to your potential customers.

    Give me a shout if you want some more ideas…



  • Snow Maker Gregg

    Great list, one I might add to the list is the “Will It Blend” videos. A small blender company with incredible customer service finally gets on the map for blending up action figures, tools, and electronics…brilliant.

  • NatureLimit

    This topic in a different way. In my opinion think ofthe greatest viral marketing campaign of all time was for ‘Blair Witch Project.

  • Hillel

    As they say – good ideas – spread!

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  • giudaspri

    Interesting to Viral Marketing:

    “First inspire, then play”

    Frank Magdans 19.07.2008
    The maker of Internet puzzles Aladygma about indie games, web art and Viral Marketing

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  • Guerilla Marketer

    Thanks a lot for this post, these are such great videos.

    Best from Munich!


    it is very good… i am very much interested in new marketing ideas. I have to say the thresher 40% was one of the best i have come across. simple easy and very effective, and the hotmail i would say is one of my fav. I hope we can run a similar one and same results soon.

  • Blonder

    Ha s anyone seen this: ?Rumour has it this is part of a Puma guillarra marketing campaign. What looks like a Rutger Hauer Fansite — Mr. Hauer happily chatting away about life and his work in a …. Puma joggingpak. Rumour was denied by Sara Gottman (Puma’s Head of International Public Relations) “We are in no way whatsoever affiliated with mr. Hauer nor with this website and its content.” But it seems fun and well set up, like the mysterious campaign by BMW (The Ramp)

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  • Allen

    The Dark Knight?

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  • Joy-Fleur

    Hi there,
    Great page! I’ve referenced you in my blog, thanks for this informative overview!

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  • The Virtual Consulting Firm

    Great Article and Top 10 List, Patrick! :)

    Thank you for compiling and sharing this with all of us! :)

    Yes, the HotMail “model” is a Great example of a Super Viral Marketing Strategy! :)

    What about Microsoft’s strategy of getting their OS pre-installed on PC’s?! 😉
    Another Great Viral Marketing Strategy IMHO and just look at the results! 😉

    Thank you again for the Great Article, Patrick and Everyone Have a Great Day! :)

  • CampfireSteve

    Nice list! But just one slice, as there are lots more efforts that should rank on this list, because of their overall impact via number of comments, pass alongs, word of mouth, etc..

    Is the measure of “viral” simply video views on youtube – shouldn’t it be some other more all encompassing “engagement metric”? (Sorry)

    I’d add more efforts like Hotmail, as well as campaigns — and ARGs — to balance out single viral videos. Frequently videos simply serve as a tactic in a larger integrated campaign. How about including I Love Bees? Perplex City, Or Court TV’s Emily gag?

    And of course I agree with Innovation Catalyst about Blair Witch, since it was created by some of my partners.

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  • hayden

    well wicked video’s cool and funky

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  • Free domain

    Youtube is a big source of free viral marketing.

  • Asa

    These viral marketing campaigns are very creative. I really liked the Ronaldinho one. Marketing on the internet is really amazing because of how fast things like this can spread.

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  • Scott Meleskie

    Audi’s Art of the Heist Campaign was just ridiculous (and brilliant)… particularly for the fact that the planning required to pull this off is just mind blowing. Audi really should be applauded for taking such a big risk by putting out this campaign.

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  • Ecommerce Help – Tyrone Shum

    I really like Viral Marketing because it is very creative. Apart from that, this type of marketing can really help you with Ecommerce nowadays. Through this type of marketing you can get a lot of publicity and earn a lot of traffic for your business. Viral amrketing + SEOs can immediately put you to the top although it depends on how you are planning to use it and what you have to offer.

  • Web Development India

    Very Nice and informative post…

  • Cody Hobbs

    There are some great viral videos but I wouldn’t categorize the Celine Dion one as as viral marketing per se (at least according to the definition at Viral Marketing Wiki) yes it’s viral but not marketing for the product.

  • Peter

    I’m not sure I’d want the boots like Ronaldinho, he keeps hitting the post.

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  • SUTRA Magazine

    Threshers campaign was just brilliant…even i thought i was lucky to get a copy….now how could one use that for a fashion magazine?

    thanks anyway!!

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  • Magnolia Medina

    Hello guys,

    I am doing a research on viral marketing. If you want to participate, please click this link:

    Thank you

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  • Ariel

    I’d like to add the emily’s billboards and blog to this list,
    The New York times also did an interesting article on the campaign

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  • walterpike

    The thing about the Treshers campaign was that its wasn’t theirs.

    Stormhoek Wines made it viral through their blog picking up on an opportunity unwittingly created by Threshers.

    I refer to the Treshers campaign under the title Stormhoek Viral.

  • juan

    Where is crazy german kid lol…And…The obama girl? or whopper freakout or even fifa street

    More examples here

    hi to all marketing passionated

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  • Ron

    TRY TO LOOK a group into FACEBOOK’s called:
    i think its a bit viral!!

  • Tom

    That’s a nice list, I guess Comparethemarket would have a place now.
    Alpro soya have a viral out at the moment. Check it out at –

  • Preston

    Looking to try some viral marketing campaigns for in the next few months. Thanks for the great advice.

  • Nikhilsagar

    These viral marketing campaigns are very useful.
    I really liked the method of viral marketing.
    Marketing on the internet is really amazing.

  • Product Launch Performance

    Awesome! First you get the fame, then you get the money. Going viral should be the first thing you do before you even create your full product. Steps: 1 Go Viral 2 Build List 3 Sell. The viral step creates fame and brands you…gets the word out so that when you actually hit the scene with a list build offer or sell offer…it’s easy to get attention, otherwise you are white noise in a sea of white noise.

  • nivekinc

    I am just starting out in internet marketing i’ve heard about viral marketing but i have been running a cross scam this information sound true. Thanks

  • Oli

    I’m just embarking on my first (intentional) viral marketing campaign. I’m creating content and sprinkling it in the right places to grow… the only problem I’m having is convincing my boss that it will work given time. Very tough.

  • SysComm

    Very good choice! Although there are so many other amazing virals as well….But since you had to choose 10, it was quite normal to miss some.

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  • Secret-Pie

    Good posting – my fave of all time is the 24 viral from 3 years ago…which I believe (rightly or wrongly) that Branded3 had a part in building, or is that a myth?

    I’ve referenced that campaign and this article in my Top 13 Digital Events post.

    Nice to see the Threshers campaign up there – they were a digital client of mine at the time and my team and I managed this viral work etc for them….it went ridiculously well, so well that it’s funny how many people and businesses try and attach themselves to it who definately weren’t working for Poulters or Threshers at the time…hey ho!

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  • freebiejeebies

    wow that’s a fantastic blog post, thanks a lot. It’s amazing how some of these adverts and videos can create millions of views, it just goes to show how that one simple idea can generate into something big.

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  • Amelia

    I like all ideas of viral marketing campaigns. I like your list too but the way you prove your list “the top 10” seems not persuasive. Thanks anyway for your info 😉

  • Anna

    Just saw a new viral spot “Planemob” from a german low-cost airline on facebook. Quite funny;-)

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  • Beauchamp Web design

    Great videos, brilliant post

  • Jack Pot

    Great article on viral marketing and the best ever campaigns. I put together a piece entitled HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF VIRAL MARKETING TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE which you can take a look at. It gives you some great ideas about how you can use viral marketing to improve the exposure of your products!

  • simran011

    A very good article with excellent examples!! I have created a website which also aids in the explanation of viral marketing! Head on over to and please leave some comments!

  • Interfloweronline

    The Cadburys gorilla ad has to be one of the greatest ads of all time

  • mike

    Excellent post – thanks. Can vial marketing to work for a service in a B2B environment, if so, how would you do so please??

  • business|directory

    looking for a viral marketing idea, have you got one?

  • Whittakers_Flowerwrap

    I could do with thinking up a viral campaign for my wholesale company, any ideas?

  • digital photolink

    Thanks for sharing this i have been looking for some great examples of viral marketing and this has helped loads.

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  • Koowie

    When you don’t have a big budget, sometimes viral marketing is your one shot to make it. Of course you still have to have a good product to make the viral catch on.

  • msonmarketing

    The subservient chicken video is brilliant!

  • Herat Patel

    awesome the gorilla`s video now i am also doing like this using viral marking in seo thanks for sharing this knowledge.


  • GaryR

    Hahaha great post! I remember stumbling onto Subservient Chicken for the first time, its rather creepy!

  • Don Nerazzurri

    Love the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad fantastic idea and one of the greatest songs of all time

  • chillinchicken

    I looove the Ronaldinho vid!

  • asigurari locuinte

    When you don’t have a big budget, sometimes viral marketing is your one shot to make it.

  • Vic @ Business Tips Blog

    These viral marketing campaigns are really brilliant. They capture the minds and hearts of people. It’s amazing how marketers predict the future behaviors of people.

  • phone system

    Viral marketing is one of those things that you can sit there all day and think about and get nowhere, but when you read about someone else’s successful effort you wonder how you did not think of that.

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  • Jesica

    Thanks for sharing best list of Viral Marketing Campaigns! I am also working same as using viral marking in search engine optimization.

  • Juegos Wii

    Viral marketing is the best impresion about democracy. We can all participate by having all the same chances on getting there

  • Kuldeep singh

    Nice list by by Patrick Altoft The Top 10 Viral Marketing Campaigns Of All Time. Really it captures the minds and hearts of people

  • Ben the Business Idea Guy

    I’ve gleaned some ideas from these viral marketing campaigns that I can use for my business. Thanks!

  • arthisoft

    That’s really helpful videos, and thanks for sharing with us. I really thankful to you for sharing.

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  • Viralplanet

    I think that companies and brands will benefit from the move from tradtion to online markering methods and viral campaigns.

  • Viral Planet

    Viral marketing is now making a big impact in the video world and companies such as viral planet are making a smash into this industry with great videos and online mareting campaigns.

  • Gayle

    Fantastic videos! Definitely gave me some inspiration! :-)

  • Frank DeLuca

    Great examples of viral campaigns.

  • Sheena L. Mathieson

    This is very viral!

  • Yogesh Shinde

    Awesome list of viral video marketing campaigns.

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